AVOIDING BED BUGS DURING HOLIDAY TRAVEL
The old-time expression “Don’t Let the bed bugs bite” has taken on a heightened meaning recently with exploding bed bug populations across the U.S., especially during the holiday travel season. Whether you are traveling to your childhood home for the holidays or you are welcoming guests into your own house, it is best to take precaution when it comes to these bloodsucking pests. Most people associate bed bugs to filth and dirt, so it’s a surprise to many that bed bugs can be found anywhere from economy motels to four-star resorts and even grandma’s house and everywhere in between.
What are bed bugs and what do they look like?
First things first, in order to protect yourself from bed bugs you need to know the basics. Bed bugs are small parasitic insects that feed on human blood. Adults are not much larger than an apple seed — measuring approximately 1/4-inch long by 1/8-inch wide. Adults are typically brown or reddish-brown while younger bed bugs are colorless which makes them even more difficult to spot. While they do get their name from their common harborage in beds, these pests can be found just about anywhere including office buildings, movie theaters, buses, trains, and even department stores.
Prevention Tips for Holiday Parties and Holiday Guests
When welcoming family and friends into your home, be aware that bed bugs may have hitched a ride with them. If you are having a party, do not put your guests’ coats or bags on your beds. These are common items that bed bugs hitchhike on. Instead, clean out your front closet and use it to hangup guests’ coats and bags during the party. If space is limited, place a sheet over the bed before putting any coats on it. As soon as guests leave, place the sheet in a dryer on medium-high heat for at least 30 minutes. Also vacuum the bed and/or closet to reduce risk.
If you have any overnight guests, after they leave carefully inspect guest rooms for any signs of bed bugs. Wash all bed linens and dry at a high heat as soon as possible after they are gone. If guests will be sleeping on a couch then place a sheet over on it. This sheet can be laundered and the couch should also be vacuumed thoroughly.
If You Are Traveling for the Holidays
If you are staying with a family member, you may feel a little safer on the bed bug front, but still be cautious. Have an open conversation with your hosts about any potential pest infestations whether it be bed bugs or not. As mentioned, bed bugs can be anywhere! In clean and disorganized homes alike. If you are staying in a hotel or other shared accommodation, make sure you research and read reviews before booking. Some good resources for this include TripAdvisor, Booking.com and The Bedbug Registry.
Once You Arrive
It may seem extreme, but best practice is to do a simple bed bug inspection in your room upon arrival. This includes looking for spots on mattresses, pillows, headboards, and walls behind the headboard. You may not see the actual bugs themselves, but they do leave a trail of fecal spots. Check other areas of the room, such as wooden dresser drawers and other upholstery, such as desk chairs and couches. Contact guest services immediately if you find any signs of bed bugs during your inspection.
During Your Stay
Keep your luggage off of the ground throughout your stay. The luggage rack is a great place to store your luggage, but if the legs are wooden rather than metal, it is possible that bed bugs could still climb it, so be sure to do an inspection beforehand. Another great place to keep your luggage may be surprising to many — the bathtub! Bed bugs cannot climb porcelain due to its slick surface. Just be sure to remove it before showering!
After Your Travels
Once you are home, be sure to inspect your belongings. Immediately wash and dry all of your clothing, even the clothes you didn’t wear. Bed bugs cannot survive temperatures above 122 degrees, so it is important to dry the clothing on the highest heat setting. It is also a good idea to inspect and vacuum your suitcase, as well as keep your luggage zipped up until it is needed again. Keep an eye out for any itchy and welt-like bite marks!
The holidays are a great time to visit family and friends, near and far, but if you do notice any signs of beds bugs, call Black Diamond for a bed bug inspection immediately! If you are unsure of an infestation but would like some peace of mind, check into what our bed bug sniffing K-9 can do for you! It is best to catch these bests early on before the infestation gets out of control. Happy holidays and safe travels!